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The Great Uganda Gorilla Safari
10 days with Natural Habitat Adventures  |  See Prices

  • Multiple treks through the rain forest of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offer captivating close encounters with endangered mountain gorillas.
  • Observe the interactions of wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, and view a wide array of traditional African plains game in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Outstanding Expedition Leaders, the finest ecolodges close to wildlife, plus a private chartered flight set this Uganda primate safari above the rest!


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#T17430 Feb 1, '19 See Price
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Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda—Botanical Gardens
Our Uganda tour begins in Entebbe, where you're met at the airport and transferred to the Protea Hotel Entebbe. If time permits, you may opt to visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Established in 1902, the gardens' fine collection of plants spans the country's tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones. The gardens are also home to many different bird species, offering an excellent introduction to Uganda’s diverse birdlife. We commonly spot vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys here, too. Meet your Expedition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening.
 
Days 2 & 3: Kibale National Park—Chimpanzee Trekking
The drive to Kibale Forest traverses Uganda's verdant highlands, where fertile volcanic soil supports a tapestry of tea, coffee and banana plantations. We arrive in time for refreshments around the pool and to watch the sun dip behind the Rwenzori Mountains. The following morning, a “swamp walk” through a wetland sanctuary reveals more than 100 species of birds. After lunch, we meet our local trackers to begin our first chimpanzee trek in Kibale National Park. This equatorial rain forest reserve has one of the highest concentrations of primates in the world, including 1,300 chimpanzees. We may also see red colobus, black-and-white colobus, red tail, gray-cheeked mangabey and other monkeys. On our return, there's time to relax and enjoy the grand view from our boutique lodge perched on the rim of a crater lake.
 
Day 4: Kibale Forest / Queen Elizabeth National Park
After a second forest walk in search of chimpanzees, we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park along the western Rift Valley to arrive at Mweya Lodge, situated atop a peninsula that juts into the Kazinga Channel. Every room overlooks the channel, which boasts the largest concentration of hippos in Uganda. Guests also enjoy magnificent views of Lake Edward, not to mention elephants and warthogs frequently seen grazing just outside the windows, plus an abundance of colorful local birds. Queen Elizabeth Park is a microcosm of East Africa's safari highlights, home to a great diversity of wildlife residing among its volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forest. More than 600 bird species—one of the highest concentrations of any park in Africa—and nearly 100 different mammal species are found in the park, including the Ugandan kob, an endemic antelope featured on the country's currency. 
 
Days 5 & 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
On a boat trip down the Kazinga Channel, we find profuse numbers of crocodiles and hippos, and baboons frequently entertain us from the banks. Elsewhere in the scenic park we'll see an array of classic African wildlife, possibly spotting lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope. The volcanic Rwenzori range, also called the “Mountains of the Moon,” provides a dramatic backdrop with snowcapped heights rising over 16,000 feet. On the morning of Day 6, we travel overland via a wildlife drive into the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Park, where we overnight at Ishasha Wilderness Camp.
 
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth Park—Ishasha Sector / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Exploring the Ishasha region this morning, we look for Queen Elizabeth Park's famous tree-climbing lions—one of just two populations of lions that climb trees as part of their regular behavior (the other is found in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania). Though no one knows for sure, some speculate that these lions seek respite from the heat by availing themselves of cool breezes that blow through the branches on high. Heading westward to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we watch the scenery gradually change from open savanna to mountain slopes covered in dense green rain forest. Time permitting, we'll visit a school in a nearby village, then settle in for three nights at Mahogany Springs Lodge, our luxury camp on the side of a misty mountain, which will serve as our gorilla-trekking base.
 
Days 8 & 9: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Two full days of gorilla trekking are included in Bwindi. We rise early each morning in anticipation of a peerless experience: the chance to look into the face of a wild gorilla. The trail through the primeval rain forest can be challenging, sometimes slick and steep, but full of rewards. We are hiking into the jungle that early explorers called the “Impenetrable Forest,” and the name feels apt. Bwindi is home to nearly half the world’s mountain gorillas—about 400—a population that is under severe threat. Three family groups are habituated to human contact, and we hope to reach one of them by midday. Tracking them to their last known location, our guide looks for signs of their presence: broken vegetation revealing a night nest, stripped bark indicating feeding, dung. Our anticipation mounts as we climb over vines and foliage to approach the group. Our guide signals for silence, then proclaims our intentions with amiable grunts. We may see a range of ages among the individual gorillas: youngsters playing in the trees, mothers carrying babies and the mighty silverback, patriarch of the troop. No wildlife encounter can surpass the thrill of meeting these magnificent primates, so much like us, in their own habitat.  
 
Yet the significance of our visit goes beyond our own personal experience: our presence here among the gorillas is crucial for their survival. Responsible tourism has been integral to sustaining these critically endangered animals, and the dollars we have infused into the local community helps support their protection through economic sustenance of the people who live in proximity to them. We go home not just with incomparable memories and photos, but as ambassadors for the gorillas' welfare, committed to ensuring their future. If time permits, we’ll visit Conservation Coffee, a local co-op of farmers who grow, process and roast their beans to sell them at a premium that benefits gorilla conservation. We may have a chance to walk through the coffee fields, pick some beans and see firsthand how this sustainable community enterprise unfolds.
 
Day 10: Entebbe / Depart
Our Uganda safari comes to a close today with a flight back to Entebbe, avoiding a long return drive. A day room is provided on arrival, to relax and refresh for those preparing to depart. We share a farewell meal before transferring to the airport for departing flights.
 
For more information about safari accommodations on this trip, click the link next to any lodge or camp name below.

Entebbe: Protea Hotel Entebbe
Kibale Forest: Ndali Lodge more...
Queen Elizabeth National Park: Mweya Lodge more..., Ishasha Wilderness Camp more...
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: Mahogany Springs Lodge more...
You push aside a tangled rope of vines, pressing through the maze of foliage, when at last you see them. Ten or twelve gorillas sit in a forest clearing, two more up in a tree. They stop munching for a moment to observe you, nonchalant. A few feet away, you spy the big silverback. Twice the size of the young females, he sits on massive haunches, stripping leaves from branches. He’s close enough to hold your gaze with his liquid brown eyes. Something primal, inexplicable, connects the two of you in that moment. The rest of the world slips away outside this rare encounter. On this riveting wildlife expedition, meet mountain gorillas at close range and observe a host of other primates, too, including chimpanzees.
  • Activities
  • Accommodations
  • Land transfers and internal scheduled flight as detailed in the itinerary
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and the final day
  • Meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on the final day when staying in our preferred accommodation
  • Drinking water throughout the trip
  • Non-alcoholic drinks at camps and in vehicles
  • Services of NHA Expedition Leader
  • Local guides
  • Lodge staff
  • Gorilla trackers and one porter on gorilla treks
  • Permits for two chimpanzee treks and one golden monkey trek
  • Most gratuities
  • All other park permits, entrance fees and taxes
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Extension - 5 Days / Year-Round, From $3295
A 5-day safari extension to track endangered mountain gorillas. Hike through the rain forest and spend rare moments with a habituated family troop.
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 11 Travelers.
  • Gorilla Permits: $1200 (the cost of these permits may change at anytime prior to departure)
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of trip, permit fees for two gorilla treks (to be added to your invoice and subject to change through day of departure), alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.
  • Mandatory Insurance: Since the areas we travel to on this trip are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we require medical evacuation insurance for our guests' safety. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage offered by Natural Habitat, we request that you send us documentation of the independent coverage you have selected. We will add the cost of a medical evacuation policy to your tour invoice until you provide our office with proof of coverage including your insurance company's name, contact number and your individual policy number. Thank you for understanding that our policy exists exclusively in the interest of our guests' safety.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate to Difficult. The strenuous (sometimes very strenuous) trek to the gorillas usually takes between two and five hours, but can take as short as fifteen minutes and as long as eight hours (we’ve had a few treks take even longer than that). It is best to be prepared for a full-day out in humid or sometimes even rainy conditions as the exact distance of the gorillas is impossible to determine ahead of time. The terrain is varied and oftentimes uneven as we traverse the forest floor, but we will travel at a pace to accommodate all hikers with a designated porter to assist each traveler. Travelers are not required to participate in all activities and are welcome to forego any portion of the program, but in order to take full advantage of the itinerary and in order to view the primates, one must be able to participate in the hikes. Travelers should be aware that if they turn around due to fatigue, illness or any other reason the remainder of the group, including the Expedition Leader, will go on. The returning traveler will be escorted by a local guide. Additionally, there are long hours sitting during transfers and sometimes bouncing around during wildlife drives and while we don't consider this strenuous, it can be a different type of physical demand on the body. You must be able to climb into and out of these raised 4x4 trucks that serve as our safari vehicles, as well as walk to and from your safari accommodations. We recommend that travelers have an adventurous spirit, as they will often enjoy the closest animal encounters.
  • We ask that you arrive Entebbe, Uganda by 6 pm on Day 1 in order to attend a 7 pm welcome dinner. For those who would like to arrive in Entebbe in time to visit the botanical gardens (plan to arrive Entebbe by 1 pm), please inform your Adventure Specialist if you would like to participate in a guided group excursion to the gardens at 3 pm on the afternoon of Day 1. We encourage travelers to arrive a day or more early to rest from their plane trip. You are free to depart Entebbe after 4 pm on the final day.
  • 2019 departures and prices are tentative and may vary.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.



 
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